The NRA's Great American Outdoor Show is a success in Pennsylvania

Last week, about 200,000 outdoor lovers spent one or more days at the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pa. Attendance was light during the two bad-weather days; however, I spent the day there on Friday and the show was well-attended. According to NRA representative Lars Dalseide, a number of vendors commented that they had never experienced a crowd as large as the one on Feb. 8 — the last Saturday of the show.

While most attendees came from the Keystone State, I talked with people from Maine, Ohio, Maryland and Delaware. There also seemed to be many people from New York.

The 2013 show was canceled in late January of last year after many vendors and seminar providers announced that they would boycott the show. At issue was the promoters' decision to prohibit the display of military-style rifles and high capacity magazines following the Newport, Conn., school shooting. That set the stage for new sponsors to be brought in to manage and promote the show in 2014.

As one might expect from a National Rifle Association show, guns were front and center and the public seemed to like that.

I talked with many attendees and vendors at the show and all seemed happy. Some commented that they really liked the mix of vendors — with no "junk dealers" that sold products not directly related to the outdoors, as one person referred to the vendors from past years. The crowds flowed through the aisles with fewer backups. According to the show's promoters, this didn't happen by  accident.

"We made the decision to give each vendor booth a bigger footprint and to widen the aisles," commented Dalseide. "That meant that we had to be more selective about who got to display. We added several national gun manufacturers and then prioritized those who wanted booths, based on their connection to hunting, fishing and camping."

The NRA is happy with its first outdoor show in Harrisburg and is looking toward the future. Dalseide added, "Right now we are talking with vendors and a select group of visitors to see what we can do to improve next year's show."  

Categories: PenBlogs, Pennsylvania – Mark Nale, Social Media

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